Washington National Opera Reveals Two New Appointments

Chelsea Antrim Dennis will join WNO as Director of Production. Samuel Gelber has been promoted to the role of Director of Artistic Planning and Operations.

By: May. 08, 2023
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Washington National Opera Reveals Two New Appointments

Washington National Opera has announced two new appointments that will oversee the newly defined Artistic and Production departments. The delineation aims to create clearer lines of responsibility, a more sustainable workload for Washington National Opera (WNO) staff, and new support for WNO's mission.

Chelsea Antrim Dennis will join WNO as Director of Production, beginning August 7, 2023. Dennis comes to WNO from Santa Fe Opera, where she currently serves as Director of Production and where she began her career in 2004. Dennis' position will oversee the technical production, costumes, lighting, stage management, facilities planning & administration, and rehearsal departments.

Samuel Gelber has been promoted to the role of Director of Artistic Planning and Operations, taking on an expanded portfolio of responsibilities. He has served as WNO Director of Artistic Planning since 2018. In this expanded role, Gelber will be responsible for areas including WNO's artistic and music administration, the WNO music staff, engagement of stage directors, orchestra management, and he will continue his duties as casting director.

"We are excited to welcome Chelsea to the WNO and Kennedy Center families and to be continuing our collaboration with Sam in this expanded role," said O'Leary and Zambello. "They are both accomplished professionals and will bring their skills to the rest of the extraordinary WNO team to help make possible our mission to produce world-class seasons, to connect to our community, and to shape the future of opera. We are grateful to our colleagues at the Santa Fe Opera for helping us with a smooth transition."

ABOUT Chelsea Antrim DENNIS
Chelsea Antrim Dennis has served 19 seasons with the Santa Fe Opera beginning her opera production career as a stage management intern in 2004. She returned almost every summer for the next 15 years, filling the role of production stage manager for nine seasons. During that time, Dennis also worked in stage management departments nationwide. As the former production stage manager at Los Angeles Opera and Boston Lyric Opera, she has had a flourishing career working with various opera companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, and New York City Opera. Dennis was on the stage management staff for several Broadway productions including John Leguizamo's Ghetto Klown and the Tony Award®-winning play Fences. In 2019, Dennis joined the year-round Santa Fe Opera production staff and was promoted to director of production in 2020. Her responsibilities included managing the production department for five mainstage operas, two nights of apprentice scenes, Opera in the Park, and the Opera for All Voices productions. Dennis holds a degree from San Francisco State University, where she studied technical theatre with an emphasis in stage management. She spent her final year of school abroad in Florence, Italy to study Italian language and literature. She is originally from Coronado, California.


Serving as Director of Artistic Planning since 2018, Samuel Gelber has worked closely with Washington National Opera Artistic Director Francesca Zambello to program the WNO's seasons, cast principal artists, engage conductors, commission new works, and maintain WNO's relationships with the finest International Artists. The result of their collaboration has generated widespread acclaim for WNO productions such as Come Home: A Celebration of Return, the world premiere of Written in Stone, Così fan tutte, Carmen, Il trovatore, Elektra, and Blue. During this period, WNO's engagement of creative artists has been recognized for a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has proudly served on the juries of significant singing competitions including: Operalia, Joan Pons International Singing Competition, and the Galina Vishnevskaya Competition. Prior to his appointment at WNO, Gelber was artistic administrator at the Los Angeles Opera. He additionally supervised the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program and Music Administration Department. Gelber was previously artistic coordinator of the Metropolitan Opera where he worked on the casting and planning of future seasons. He began his career in artist management working with artists as diverse as Renée Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, Marco Armiliato, and Julia Fischer. He is a native of Houston, Texas and studied music in New York City at Manhattan School of Music.


Washington National Opera (WNO) is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Under the leadership of General Director Timothy O'Leary and world-renowned Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the company presents a diverse repertory of grand opera across three main venues of the Kennedy Center. From classic operas to contemporary works, each season the WNO's artistic output also includes several commissioned American works and a variety of special concerts, youth operas, and events. Founded in 1956 and an artistic affiliate of the Kennedy Center since 2011, WNO has a storied legacy of more than 100 new productions, plus world premieres, international tours, live recordings, and radio broadcasts, digitally streamed content, as well as innovative education and community-engagement programs.

Recent celebrated productions have included a new production of Strauss' Elektra; the D.C. premiere of Jeanine Tesori's and Tazewell Thompson's Blue, which was commissioned by Zambello; the world premiere of Written in Stone-composed for the Kennedy Center's 50th anniversary season; the world premiere of Philip Glass' reconceived Appomattox, presented in conjunction with cultural events throughout Washington, D.C.; the powerful performances of Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars; and the massive feat of WNO's first complete Ring Cycle, which was helmed by Zambello and played to sold-out houses following international acclaim.

WNO is committed to expanding opera's reach and fostering a new generation of opera talent. Among the company's most successful education and community engagement programs are the American Opera Initiative (AOI), The Cafritz Young Artist Program, The WNO Opera Institute, Opera in the Outfield®, in-person and digital Look-In performances, the Student Dress Rehearsal Program, free pre-concert lectures and post-show Q&As after many shows, The WNO Young Associates program, and The Let's Go There discussion series.


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